According to Microsoft’s 30 day rolling security threat activity site, education remains the most attacked sector globally by a huge margin, with nearly 80% of all attacks over this period and a 44% increase in cyberattacks since 2022.
Reported enterprise malware encounters in the last 30 days (12.01.2024). Source: Microsoft Security Intelligence Global Threat Activity
When you consider the amount of rich information that attackers can access within an educational institution, from personal staff and student data to research IP or financial information that could lead to a ransomware attack (now potentially fuelled by artificial intelligence and machine learning), it is perhaps obvious to see why they are a prime target.
The increased use of supportive digital technology such as cloud solutions, online learning and video conferencing platforms has expanded the potential attack vectors exponentially across not just our universities, colleges and schools, but also an entire supply chain of supporting partners, providers and stakeholders.
The big security threats such as data breaches, phishing and social engineering, malware and ransomware are all disruptive, costly to rectify and damaging to reputations when they eventually become public.
Addressing these security issues to safeguard systems and user data is essential and requires a comprehensive approach. This includes implementing strong access controls, regular security audits and awareness training, vulnerability assessments and maintaining up-to-date systems and software to mitigate the potential risks.
The security challenge
The challenge for many universities is whilst the problem is well understood, the ability to do something about it is often limited. With budgets stretched, systems under-invested in and often small internal IT functions, having the time and resources available to make significant improvement to your security posture can be a daunting prospect. For example, even the smallest universities will need to employ a minimum of 5 full time internal staff if they want to run their own Security Operations Centre (SOC) with the ability to monitor, detect and respond to incoming threats, as well as being able to make the right technology investment choices to proactively monitor the estate. With the added challenge of finding the right talent in a hyper-competitive area of the market where salary expectations are high, this simply isn’t a viable investment for most institutions.
Institutions need to assess if their current security posture is fit for purpose. Do they have the team, policy, processes, procedures and systems in place to protect from digital disruption, financial harm or any other disruptive event that may impact them?
How can we help?
They should be looking for support from the cyber security industry to help them take back control by working in an outsourced model across consulting, delivery and execution. The range of services that can be supplied from the market are vast, whether that be virtual CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) or specific security consulting services to help organisations define information security strategies or drive adoption and compliance of industry best practices and standards.
An outsourced SOC or threat intelligence service gives access to the latest monitoring tools as well as skilled analysts who can quickly interpret threats and respond to them 24/7 at a fraction of the cost of building an internal team.
As an ISO27001, ISO22701 (the first in the UK to be awarded this accreditation), we know what it takes to align strategy, people, processes and outcomes. Contact us today if you’d like to know more about how we can help you improve your security posture.